2015 has of course been another great year in music, so (as last year) here are some brief thoughts on my musical highlights of the year.
Albums of the year
My top 5 albums of the year are:
- Giant Sand: Heartbreak Pass (a real return to form, and a real delight as it was an album I only bought as I was going to see them at St. George’s Hall – see my review here)
- Ezra Furman: Perpetual Motion People (he just gets better and better)
- LoneLady: Hinterland (post-punk at its gently funky finest)
- The Sonics: This Is (their first album in 35 years, and best ever)
- Ryley Walker: Primrose Green (this generation’s Tim Buckley/Scott Walker)
Gigs of the year
- Ride at O2 Academy (Reliving my student days of a quarter of a century ago. Bliss) – review here
- Paul McCartney at Echo Arena (A host of never-heard-before Macca tracks including the sheer joy of Temporary Secretary) – review here
- Public Enemy at O2 Academy (Real hip hop was indeed in the house) – review here
- Buzzcocks at The Kazimier (Shelley and Diggle have still got it. Sweatiest gig of the year) – review here
- The War On Drugs at O2 Academy (Ringing ears and a lovely cover of George Harrison’s Beware Of Darkness) – review here
Songs of the year
Every year I compile a ‘best of’ CD for friends. I set a few rules – only one song per band/singer, and only songs released that year. If you want a copy, give me a shout.
It’s worth mentioning that one band that would have been on this track listing is I, Ludicrous, with either Old Professors V Young Professors or (the shorter to help make it fit!) We’re Signed, opening track off this year’s Dull Is The New Interesting album. The only reason they’re not is because iTunes wouldn’t read this disc despite multiple attempts.
This year’s track listing is:
- Ezra Furman – Ordinary Life. As the song starts with the line “I’m sick of this record already”, this was a no-brainer for track one.
- Shopping – Wind Up. A fantastic post-punk band I saw supporting Merchandise at the Kaz back in November 2014, as reviewed here. This is off second album Why Choose.
- The Sonics – Bad Betty. Reunion of the year, hands down.
- The Chills – Aurora Corona. Although only singer Martin Phillips remains from the original line-up of the early 1980’s, he continues to occasionally put out fine records, with this year’s Silver Bullets being the Kiwi outfit’s first studio full-lengther since Sunburnt in 1996.
- The Fall – Quit iPhone. Yes, The Fall put out another new album, their millionth seemingly – the finely-titled Sub-Lingual Tablet. Far from being one of their finest, it’s still a great record, and this is one of the highlights.
- Julia Holter – Sea Calls Me Home. From (apparently!) fourth album Have You In My Wilderness, that was named Album of the Year in both Mojo and Uncut, as well as #2 in the less-attention-required Q. This year’s hottest ‘new’ female singer/songwriter.
- Hooton Tennis Club – P.O.W.E.R.F.U.L. P.I.E.R.R.E.. A real singalong moment from their consistent debut album Highest Point In Cliff Town, produced by fellow Wirralian Bill Ryder-Jones.
- Yeah Yeah Noh – In A Loop In Time. A less feted comeback than The Sonics, but this year’s 80’s indie revival, following The Woodentops and The Wolfhounds in 2014.
- Sauna Youth – Abstract Notions. Modern punky sounds from their second album, Distractions.
- Bob Dylan – What’ll I Do. From an album that (typically for Dylan) had divided critical opinion, but I think is rather wonderful. Shadows In The Night is his tribute to Frank Sinatra and the songs he performed.
- Membranes – 21st Century Man. From their first new album in nearly thirty years, Dark Matter/Dark Energy, I saw John Robb’s outfit twice in concert this year, first at Liverpool Sound City (see review here), and then supporting Buzzcocks at the Kaz.
- Simon Love – The New Adam And Eve. I first heard a tune or two off his It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time album on the Trust The Wizards podcast earlier this year, and fell for it immediately. I’d already got three of his former band The Loves’ albums, courtesy of their Track & Field association.
- Courtney Barnett – Elevator Operator. Opening cut from first full-length album Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit that somehow just failed to make my Top 5 albums of the year. This was one of the major highlights when I saw her at the O2 Academy – see review here.
- Sleaford Mods – Live Tonight. I missed them at the Kaz earlier this year, so I’m made up that they’re playing Sound City in 2016.
- Strange Collective – Sun. I saw them (again) supporting The Pop Group at the Kaz in May (review here), with this track finding its way into my collection via the Liverpool Psych Fest compilation.
- Robert Pollard – Café Of Elimination. From Faulty Superheroes, one of (I think) four albums he released in 2015 under various guises (a Wizard can no doubt correct me), following the second break-up of Guided By Voices.
- Giant Sand – Home Sweat Home. Lyrics just on the right side of trite, one of many high points on the album.
- Sarah Bethe Nelson – Impossible Love. Fast-Moving Clouds was a random discovery, overheard while browsing in Probe Records.
- The Wave Pictures – Pea Green Coat. From Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon, produced and co-written by Billy Childish.
- LoneLady – Hinterland. Julie Campbell, aka LoneLady, was a treat at Sound City this year (see here), and this is the title track off her second album.
- The Lucid Dream – Moonstruck. Off the second, eponymous album by these Carlisle-based psychsters.
- Gwenno – Patriarchaeth. From the solo debut by one of The Pipettes. Welshness at its best!
- Joanna Gruesome – Honestly Do Yr Worst. Punky indie pop from their second LP Peanut Butter. And more Welshness too.
- The Nightingales – The Only Son. Amazingly Mind Over Matter is their sixth album since reforming around a decade ago. I don’t have most of them, but the couple I do have are both very good.
- Low – What Part Of Me. Off their eleventh album Ones And Sixes, which is one of their finest (though I don’t have them all).
- Ryley Walker – Primrose Green. Title track off a very consistent album, actually his second full-lengther.
Event of 2015